Messages from the Bishop
Given the current challenges of meeting in-person and keeping our constituencies safe in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize it is no longer feasible to gather 3,000 people in the same location. Therefore, Bishop Leeland, the Cabinet, and Conference Secretary, Rev. Kim Ingram, propose a virtual meeting on August 8, 2020. Lay and clergy delegates to the 2020 Annual Conference will receive a paper ballot in the mail to approve moving Annual Conference to a virtual platform this year. Please return this ballot by July 15.
As faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in the midst of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to our Biblical mandate to "love our neighbors as ourselves" and our Wesleyan call to “do no harm.” In doing so, we seek ways to engage faithfully in worship, study, and ministry while ensuring the health and safety of our members and communities. We do not recommend returning to indoor worship at this time. Continue hosting online, drive-in, or outdoor worship services while following CDC, state and local guidelines, including handwashing, wearing masks, and observing physical distancing rules.
The Phase 2 Worship Guidelines remain in effect until at least June 30th. Bishop Leeland and the Cabinet will renew or update the guidelines following the release of Governor Cooper's updated statewide guidelines this week. Any extension of Phase 2 or updates to Phase 3 will be communicated as soon as possible through email, at wnccumc.org, and on all WNCC social media platforms. Please continue to be mindful of our scriptural and Wesleyan call to "love others" and “do no harm.”
May 28, 2020 The past two days have reminded us of the chaos, hurt, distrust, and anger, that emerges all too frequently in our communities. The news of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis has shocked and awakened us once again to the injustice still present in our world. My thoughts are focused on the family and friends who are grieving and all who are impacted by the traumatic effects of racism and violence. The Church has consistently denounced racial discrimination and violence. As United...
As the state of North Carolina prepares to enter Phase Two, the Cabinet has updated our Conference Guidelines for In-Person Worship and Ministry During COVID-19. These will be effective Saturday May 23, 2020 and will remain in effect until at least June 30, 2020. In alignment and compliance with public health guidance, governmental mandates, and our scriptural and Wesleyan call to "love others" and “do no harm,” these guidelines are to be followed by churches in the Western North Carolina Conference. We have also prepared a Frequently Asked Questions to help you navigate ministry concerns at this time.
UPDATED May 21, 2020: Phase One guidelines are no longer in effect. Please find the Phase Two guidelines and FAQs here. Phase Two is effective starting Saturday, May 23, 2020 and will remain in effect until at least June 30, 2020. ------- Greetings, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: We give thanks for the many ways that you have continued to be the body of Christ during this pandemic. Your innovation and creativity are to be applauded. As a state, we are...
May 4, 2020 As congregations, laity, and clergy, continue to deliver exceptional ministry to our communities, we have been inspired by the gracious spirit pervading our entire annual conference. Many churches have given careful thought to sharing worship online, expressing the faith of Jesus through hymns, music, scripture, and inspirational messages. Our communities have witnessed the kindness and compassion of the church through food and clothing initiatives. It has been inspirational and ...
Bishop Leeland and the Cabinet have made the decision to postpone the Western North Carolina Annual Conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of our traditional three-day event, the decision has been made to hold a one-day Annual Conference session on the afternoon of Saturday, August 8 at Lake Junaluska. The Ordering of Ministry Service where persons will be ordained, commissioned, and licensed for ministry will be held on Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska.
As we hear the announcements that our nation and state are going to slowly reopen, the Bishop and the Cabinet of the Western North Carolina Conference encourage all local churches to continue to follow the guidelines of the CDC as well as state and local officials regarding the resumption of in-person worship. Please continue to guide all your decisions by Jesus’ command to “love one another.” COVID-19 has not been eradicated, and thus we continue to need to protect the most vulnerable among us. The following are 24 questions to consider as you make plans for persons to return to your church building and activities. These have been adapted from the blog by Ken Braddy, “24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return.”
April 22, 2020 Dear United Methodist friends, Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ. We express deep gratitude to you for your energetic response to the needs of children in this time of COVID-19 crisis. Within the necessary constraints of physical distancing, you have found ways to offer support for public school children and teachers. Thank you for providing food, school supplies, and other resources that encourage as learning continues in homes and through technology. ...
Bishop Leeland and the Cabinet share an update on appointments this year after discernment and reflection given the current circumstances of social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bishop Leeland outlines specific guidelines for the practice for online communion during the COVID-19 crisis. Please note, this is only to be viewed as temporary. This is not a license to continue this practice when life returns to normal.
Bishop Leeland and other Cabinet members lobby Governor Cooper to include church employees in extended unemployment benefits. Because churches are exempt from paying both federal and state unemployment insurance, church employees are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits at this time.
Important message from Bishop Leeland of the Western North Carolina Conference. Links to additional resources for church and community preparedness can be found following the Bishop's message.
While honoring the desire to gather for worship, Bishop Leeland and the Cabinet ask all UMC churches in Western North Carolina to follow the Governor's guideline and refrain from holding "drive-in worship" services.
"The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has asked for the postponement of the 2020 General Conference, set to begin in six weeks, because of the new Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic."